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What is the consensus - during an interview, do you keep your suit jacket on or off?

What is the impression it gives if the suit jacket is taken off during the interview?

  • 2
    It depends on what type of job you are interviewing for. What do you do? – Lawrence Aiello Nov 21 '14 at 18:42
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    related (possibly a duplicate): Selecting interview attire for a technical job interview – gnat Nov 21 '14 at 19:21
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    The impression it gives is that you're not comfortable. This could very well be acceptable if the temperature is very hot but otherwise it suggests someone who is not used to a suit/jacket. – teego1967 Nov 21 '14 at 19:25
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    @gnat how... how is that a duplicate? – bharal Nov 21 '14 at 19:25
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    @JoeStrazzere: How do you "suit wear a jacket"? You've got some swagger I might want to replicate :) – Joel Etherton Nov 21 '14 at 20:08
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I will assume that you've determined already that a suit jacket is appropriate for the type of interview in which you find yourself.

The only times I ever remove my jacket during an interview is if it is insanely hot and I expect to be in there more than 15 minutes longer than I've already been there. I can suffer through just about anything for 15 minutes.

There are some exceptions I would make though:

  1. If you're in danger of sweating. Sweating is bad and makes you look nervous and unsure of yourself.
  2. If you go into the interview and it's very hot and you are asked if you would like to remove your jacket. If it isn't that hot and I'm asked, I almost always decline.

Remember though, 1 overrides just about everything.

Also, realistically it probably doesn't affect your interview as long as you still look confident and professional without the jacket on, but I always opt for more formal, at least in the very first interview, and it's never served me wrong.

edit: As for the impression it gives, suit jackets say "I'm a professional" which is why I always leave mine on.

  • If it is that hot, perhaps asking for a water break might be appropriate. – Tyzoid Nov 21 '14 at 23:33
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    A glass of water, sure. But asking for your first break before you're hired isn't really wise. – Chris E Nov 21 '14 at 23:35
  • In theory, you would ask this at a natural place in the interview so it isn't awkward. "Break" might not be the best of words to use. – Tyzoid Nov 21 '14 at 23:40
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    May be worth pointing out (as it took me a while to learn this!) that when sitting down, even if not taking the jacket off it should always be unbuttoned as it will bunch up strangely otherwise. – Weckar E. Apr 12 '17 at 6:31
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If you come in and see everyone's much less dressed up than you, you're probably safe to take it off. You could also say in this situation, "I'm getting a little warm. Do you mind if I take off my suit jacket?" If it's more formal, like everyone's obviously wearing business-casual or even more formal, it's probably safer to leave it on. I think a good rule of thumb is at least one step more formal than the interviewers. I might make an exception though if you're overwhelmingly uncomfortable in the suit jacket. You won't make a good impression if you choose to keep it on, and end up being really uncomfortable as a result.

5

I keep it on unless I think there are some situations where it is appropriate to take it off:

  • Other people are extremely casually dressed
  • Some sort of performance or test is required, roll-up-your-sleeves kind of things or you don't want to get dry erase/chalk on your jacket.
  • The interviewer asks, suggests or offers. Maybe the room we're in is very hot or she is not comfortable having someone formally dressed when they're casual.

Otherwise, there's a reason you wore it to the interview in the first place, so be safe and keep it on.

2

Assuming the interview and employment offered is in an office setting, I wouldn't ever take my jacket off. In an interview it would show the interviewer that I was uncomfortable wearing one. Also, in today's very competitive world where we're not with the same employer for our entire career I'd suggest always having the jacket on.

I do everyday regardless of season because I think my professional brand image is important. You really never know who you'll meet at work, on your way to or from work or anyplace you go on company time. You don't want to be seen scrambling to put on your jacket or be seen looking uncomfortable introducing yourself to someone who just popped by while your jacket is on your chair instead of on you.

If you're a contractor with the business or a consultant who's working alongside employees but isn't one themselves I would definitely never be seen without my jacket on. Otherwise, it's more important to fit in with the boss than coworkers. Perhaps paying more attention to how attire is worn will promote you faster because you fit the look of someone who can be in a leadership position.

Either way, if you're like me and prefer to just keep your jacket on all throughout the day that should be perfectly fine. Just be consistent from day 1 of your interaction with people at the company and people will accept you for who you are. My rule of thumb is that there's no problem with looking too classy and there's no such thing as overdressed in an office setting. You want to consistently show, without saying a word about it, that there's a minimum standard you always wish to stay very high above regardless of employer.

In short, always tailor your suits to fit and have an investment in lighter weight suits for spring and summer. That way you don't get hot.

  • There are lots of jobs (such as most programming jobs) where wearing a suit would be very unreasonable on the job but should (occasionally) be worn during the interview. – Ian Holstead Apr 25 '15 at 16:24
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    I made an edit to break this up a bit to make it more readable. Welcome to The Workplace! – enderland Apr 25 '15 at 18:04

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